Novel MRI contrast agent for molecular imaging of fibrin implications for detecting vulnerable plaques

Sebastian Flacke, Stefan Fischer, Michael J. Scott, Ralph J. Fuhrhop, John S. Allen, Mark McLean, Patrick Winter, Gregorio A. Sicard, Patrick J. Gaffney, Samuel A. Wickline, Gregory M. Lanza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

473 Scopus citations


Background - Molecular imaging of thrombus within fissures of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques requires sensitive detection of a robust thrombus-specific contrast agent. In this study, we report the development and characterization of a novel ligand-targeted paramagnetic molecular imaging agent with high avidity for fibrin and the potential to sensitively detect active vulnerable plaques. Methods and Results - The nanoparticles were formulated with 2.5 to 50 mol% Gd-DTPA-BOA, which corresponds to >50 000 Gd3+ atoms/particle. Paramagnetic nanoparticles were characterized in vitro and evaluated in vivo. In contradistinction to traditional blood-pool agents, T1 relaxation rate as a function of paramagnetic nanoparticle number was increased monotonically with Gd-DTPA concentration from 0.18 mL · s-1 · pmol-1 (10% Gd-DTPA nanoparticles) to 0.54 mL · s-1 · pmol-1 for the 40 mol% Gd-DTPA formulations. Fibrin clots targeted in vitro with paramagnetic nanoparticles presented a highly detectable, homogeneous T1-weighted contrast enhancement that improved with increasing gadolinium level (0, 2.5, and 20 mol% Gd). Higher-resolution scans and scanning electron microscopy revealed that the nanoparticles were present as a thin layer over the clot surface. In vivo contrast enhancement under open-circulation conditions was assessed in dogs. The contrast-to-noise ratio between the targeted clot (20 mol% Gd-DTPA nanoparticles) and blood was ≈118±21, and that between the targeted clot and the control clot was 131±37. Conclusions - These results suggest that molecular imaging of fibrin-targeted paramagnetic nanoparticles can provide sensitive detection and localization of fibrin and may allow early, direct identification of vulnerable plaques, leading to early therapeutic decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1285
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 11 2001


  • Contrast media
  • Fibrin
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Plaque


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